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RAWK's Advent Calendar : My favourite player #1. RAY CLEMENCE.

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Its December and that means its time to bring out the Advent Calendar.
In the interest of keeping our members off the chocolate and fannying about searching for the door marked 17 and realising your little brother ripped it off about two weeks ago, RAWK is delighted to present to you, your very own Advent's Calendar. Each day leading up to the 25th and including that day, we'll present to you a different writer's take on players who mattered to the club. Now before anyone gets on their high horse, this isn't a definitive list of who we think are the best players at our club. That would be an exercise more divisive than asking King Herod to head up Mothercare at this time of year. Instead it started off as a list of favourite players but quickly became a collection of articles on players who for one reason or another had an impact on the club and are players of importance in our history.

Think of it as a selection box, something for everyone and the dog can have Sean Dundee. (if he appears in the list of course, not giving anything away now..... ;) )

So enjoy reading passionate, well written threads by passionate writers, one each day leading up to Christmas. I'm starting with my favourite player: Ray Clemence.

As a boy I never played football at any level beyond the park. As an asthmatic, I could hardly jog the length of myself anyway and coupled with a complete lack of ability and competitive yen, I always ended up in goals. Not only that but I spent a large part of my childhood in Scunthorpe and always had a soft spot for the local small club. So when I discovered that Liverpool's goalie used to play for the Iron, that's probably the 2 reasons why for me, Ray Clemence is the subject of my favourite player.

There are clubs that are known for a particular type of player: Liverpool were known for having amazing players in lots of departments, but the goalkeepers at our club are legendary in the mad mad world of the man between the sticks.

The Flying Pig (Tommy Lawrence)
Elisha Scott
David James,
Pepe Reina

but to name a select few of LFC's wonderful past goalies (and present)

They are all greats in the game...

But for me Ray is the stand out amongst them, with respect to Elisha of course... and out of all my Liverpool teams I've loved, he's still one of my favourite all time players in any position.

Signed from Scunny for 18,000 in 1967, he replaced Tommy Lawrence full time in 1969/70 and in his first game, he played against Swansea, we won 2-0.

He saved a penalty against Borussia Munchengladbach in the '72/'73 UEFA Cup finals and although they won 2-0 at theirs, his stop meant we won overall. Otherwise they would've won on away goals. He did the same against Dresden a few years later.

I can't remember which season it was but he only let in 16 goals all season, and from a pool of 14 players Liverpool won the league. 16 goals... think about it, all season... (looked it up, it was the 1978/79 season). Astonishingly only 4 4! were conceded at Anfield. He was responsible for giving Anfield the name Fortress. For making other teams think they'd already lost when they arrived.

I don't care much for England but him and Shilton shared the number 1 shirt for years, of course I thought Ray should've had it permanently, but it probably extended his Liverpool career right up til 1981 when Bruce replaced him and he moved to Spurs. I was gutted. He embodied Liverpool over that time, 12 years as the goalkeeper during my childhood, watching him in the dark green shirt, making saves and organising the many different terrific defences we had in front of him. 12 years in a time where the football was more fighting than feinting, and where most penalty areas were more quicksand and mud than grass. He survived being bullied by some of the biggest thugs in football, Joe Jordan, Gordon McQueen when he came up for corners, Chopper Harris from Chelsea and so on.

To play in the 70's was to live with the tough and unrelenting, in games where the yellow card rarely saw the light of day and to get a red card, a gun, or life threatening injury usually to be involved.

These days goalies are given the benefit of the doubt, in those days WWF had nothing on the penalty box shenanigans. The back pass pick up wasn't ruled illegal but that was about the only thing that was softer then. Ray Clemence didn't bully his way into history books, he played his way. Standing in the goal mouths of away grounds where you were lucky if it was only abuse that was thrown at you, Clem was rarely booked and I'm not sure but I don't think he was ever sent off.

Clem for me was just basically a fantastic footballer who never hogged the limelight, always seemed a decent guy and became the Liverpool goal.

He had 665 appearences for us, winning the league, the European Cup, the UEFA Cup, the FA Cup, the League Cup. He is one of the most decorated goalkeepers in the world and his knowledge and humilty in the game is legendary. And out of those 665 appearences, he kept a clean sheet in 335 of them... Over half of his games.

None of your fancy dan silky soccer skilled latter day saints for me.. Ray Clemence is my favourite player because to me, he was Liverpool.

He gave the Fortress to Anfield, a feeling that persisted for a long long time after Ray had moved on. It was him, and the defences of his career that were the bedrock on which Keegan, Toshack, Dalglish et al could build their attacking football on. He enabled Liverpool to become the great team it is today and enabled Anfield to become a place where teams came to fail.

I still love goalies and I still love their madness, their uniqueness and their contributions to the game. Ray wasn't crazy, he wasn't a dribbler of the ball, he wasn't a madcap shaky legged hairdo though. He was and will remain for me always, a goalkeeper, a shotstopper and one of the finest men to play for LFC.

My favourite player: Ray Clemence.

Welcome to the RAWK Advent Calendar.

Really liked that nice insight. My personal favourite keeper has always been Elisha Scott personally. It's not because he impressed me with his playing, it's just the hair man. That hair was so thick it could've stopped a depleted uranium shell.

welcome to December RAWKites. :wave

He's also responsible for ensuring a lot of Liverpool legends from that era get together, reminisce and get pissed according to David Johnson!

Great read Hinesy. I didn't know he was responsible for the name Fortress.

Learn something new every day on Rawk  :)

And he was only 5'11".


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